We were off to Torino- the land of the fabled shroud and charming Italian men. We packed light as the weather forecast said Italy is warm this time of year and so just light cotton tees and shorts with lighter floaters and flip flops went into the bag. We did however wear our trainers cause we planned to walk about to see the sights. Trainers are mandatory if you are sightseeing Europe!
Take a cab from the airport to your hotel as lugging around luggage in public transport is not advisable. From the word go the driver turned on the charm and decided we were two unsuspecting foreigners from a foreign land, so this was his day to make the proverbial quick buck. Almost an hour later we were deposited at our hotel which had been booked online called Hotel Continental. Eighty Euros for the cab fare was a hefty amount, but we assumed it was the going rate- not so, on our return we were wiser and paid less than half the price.
The Hotel Continental at 90 odd Euros a night, was an excellent choice as not only were we made to feel very welcome, but we were finally not gouged for a single cent more at the end of our seven days. The rooms are well laid out and spotlessly clean and the breakfast thrown in for free. For Cappuccino lovers, this is where it all begins. Just let your hair down and order your first cup, sit back and savour it, cause that’s the minute a coffee aficionado will remember most about his/her trip! For a fruit fiend like me, I was in Torino at the right time of year. Breakfast for me were slices of either canteloupe or water melon, a fistful of ripe cherries and two large luscious peaches or apricots. Torino for fruit lovers is a must in July, you can live quite happily on them and they are very reasonably priced at any ‘fruiteria’ in the city.
Like in any city in Europe public transport is cheap and clean and very efficient. So for just one Euro you can buy yourself a ticket at the ‘Tabacchi’ (tobacconist) and ride the bus to wherever you want to go. We wanted to see the Shroud, but unfortunately were told that the exposition was over – missed it by a sliver as it was over in May). However one can go into the Cathedral of St John the Baptist where the shroud has been kept since 1578 and pray at the shrine where it is hidden from view in a temperature controlled case. One can also visit the Museo della Sindone, where there is a display of many artifacts related to the Shroud's history along with many excellent Shroud photographs, some of them life size.
Restaurants remain open after 6pm but most of the shops down their shutters for a siesta in the afternoon and at 6pm sharp. That can be a bit disconcerting especially since we wanted to try the local cuisine and the fusion ‘Kebap pizzas’! We enjoyed walking into these tiny pizzerias and poking our fingers at the slices we wanted through the glass. Then they were pushed into ovens with long handelled ladles and then slapped onto a sheet of grease proof paper and thrust into our hands with the bill stuck on. The cheese had gone all goey with the heat and they were yummy to eat till the very last bite! Then of course you come to Italy to indulge in their Gelatos – we shamelessly slurped one of every flavour, in every gelato shop that we passed all week.
One morning we decided to go see the Egyptian Museum which has an entrance ticket of 12 Euros. It’s worth the money spent if you are interested in Egyptian history. We were, so we spent the better part of 2 hours 'oohing' and 'aahing' over real mummies and massive Sphinx sculptures of Ramses II.But there were none of Nefrititi whom I wanted to see very much. Lots of class encased papyrus specimens were out on view and the exhibits of the burial sites with all the goodies that went in was the most intriguing.
Torino gave us an initial taste of Italy and then set us off on a romantic adventure, exploring the rest of Italy by high speed Trenitalia trains for yet another week.